Faculty & Staff

 
 
Dr. Leigh M. Fall
Classes taught:

Introduction to Geology (Geol 120), GEOFYRST (Geol 120), Earth History and the Fossil Record (Geol 220), Paleontology (330), Geology of the Rocky Mountain Region (Geol 333), Statistics in Geosciences (Special Topics Geol 394), Global Change Through Deep Time (Special Topics Geol 394), Introduction to the Earth (ESCI 100), Earth Materials (ESCI 215), Introduction to Oceanography (Ocea 110)

Areas of interest:

Paleontology, Paleoecology, Marine Invertebrates, Biodiversity, Body Size, Nitrogen Isotopes, Global Change, Paleoclimatology

Research:

My main research interest is examining biodiversity within the fossil record. The fossil record provides a way to investigate how organisms interacted with each other and their environment and how organisms respond to global change (e.g., migration or extinction) over 3.8 billion years of Earth’s history. Currently, my research focuses on investigating the trophic position (i.e., primary producer, herbivore, carnivore) of the moon snail Neverita duplicata. Neverita duplicata is a predatory snail that drills into the shells of their prey items (such as clams and snails) to consume the flesh. Neverita is found all along the east coast, including Long Island Sound. My research has shown that this moon snail is actually an omnivore, which has implications for the food web. The food web is an important concept for understanding changes in biodiversity. I investigated the trophic position of Neverita through nitrogen and carbon isotopes. Nitrogen and carbon isotopes are important tools for determining dietary sources and complex interactions. Although I am working with a modern organism, moon snails have a long fossil record and have been studied intensely as a model predator-prey system.

I recently began work on investigating biodiversity in the some of the rocks in New York, particularly during a major mountain building event known as the Taconic Orogeny in the Ordovician. A student and I are working on a project to assess how body size and abundances of trilobites change along a water depth gradient (shallow to deep) in the Middle Ordovician Trenton Group of Central New York. Both body size and abundances are ways to examine biodiversity in the fossil record.

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